Acts 5:21
And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Early in the morning.—Probably at day-break, when the worshippers would be going up to the Temple for their early devotions, or, though less probable, at the third hour, the time of the morning sacrifice.

They that were with him.—Probably those named in Acts 4:6, who seem to have acted as a kind of cabinet or committee.

All the senate. . . .—Literally the word means, like senate, the assembly of old men, or elders. They are here distinguished from the Sanhedrin, which itself included elders, in the official sense of the word, and were probably a body of assessors—how chosen we do not know—specially qualified by age and experience, called in on special occasions. They may have been identical with the “whole estate of the elders” of Acts 22:5.

5:17-25 There is no prison so dark, so strong, but God can visit his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts of life, but that God may be honoured with the services of our life. It is not for the preachers of Christ's gospel to retire into corners, as long as they can have any opportunity of preaching in the great congregation. They must preach to the lowest, whose souls are as precious to Christ as the souls of the greatest. Speak to all, for all are concerned. Speak as those who resolve to stand to it, to live and die by it. Speak all the words of this heavenly, divine life, in comparison with which the present earthly life does not deserve the name. These words of life, which the Holy Ghost puts into your mouth. The words of the gospel are the words of life; words whereby we may be saved. How wretched are those who are vexed at the success of the gospel! They cannot but see that the word and power of the Lord are against them; and they tremble for the consequences, yet they will go on.Early in the morning - Greek: at the break of day. Compare Luke 24:1; John 8:2.

Called the council together - The Sanhedrin, or the Great Council of the nation. This was clearly for the purpose of "trying" the apostles for disregarding their commandments.

And all the senate - Greek: "eldership." Probably these were not a part of the Sanhedrin, but were people of age and experience, who in Acts 4:8; Acts 25:15, are called "elders of the Jews," and who were present for the sake of counsel Canal advice in a case of emergency.

21. entered into the temple, &c.—How self-possessed! the indwelling Spirit raising them above fear.

called … all the senate, &c.—an unusually general convention, though hastily summoned.

When they heard that; having received a command from God, they resolved to obey him rather than man.

Early in the morning; taking the first opportunity, though they could not but be sensible of the danger they ran into.

The council; the sanhedrim, or great council.

The senate; the judges of their inferior courts, or the chief amongst the priests or senators; either living in the city, or coming thither upon that festival occasion.

And when they heard that,.... Or "his word", as the Arabic version supplies; that is, the word of the angel, the orders enjoined them by him, to go to the temple, and there preach the Gospel; this clause is left out in the Syriac version:

they entered into the temple early in the morning; they were obedient to the command of the angel, believing him to be a messenger of God, who declared his will, which they readily complied with, and were indeed eager of doing it; and therefore early in the morning, as soon as ever the temple doors were opened, and there were any people got together, they went in:

and taught; as the Ethiopic version adds, "the people, this word of life"; the doctrine or doctrines of the Gospel which the angel had bid them teach:

but the high priest came, and they that were with him: as before, to the place where the sanhedrim used to meet; either the chamber Gazith, or the shops, or some other place in Jerusalem; See Gill on Acts 4:15.

and called the council together; the sanhedrim, consisting of seventy one, which usually met at the time of the morning daily sacrifice; perhaps on this occasion they might be called together sooner, and everyone of them summoned to attend; for otherwise it was not necessary that every particular member should be present, but when there was any business of importance which required it, they were all gathered together (o):

and all the senate of the children of Israel; or the elders, as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions read, the rest of the elders of the city, besides those of the great sanhedrim. Dr. Lightfoot thinks, that the two other sanhedrim, or courts of judicature in Jerusalem, which consisted of twenty three persons apiece, are designed; and who, as he rightly observes from Maimonides (p), sat the one in the gate of the court, the other in the gate of the mountain of the house; so that all the courts in Jerusalem were called together at this time; and if they all met, they made up a hundred and seventeen men:

and sent to the prison to have them brought; that is, "the apostles", as the Syriac version reads. The sense is, that the high priest, and those that were with him at the same time that they convened all the courts of judicature in Jerusalem together, sent their officers to the prison, to fetch the apostles; or else the sanhedrim, and senate of Israel being met, they ordered their officers to go to the common jail, and bring the apostles before them, to be examined, tried, and judged by them.

(o) Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 1, 2.((p) Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 2.

{6} And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

(6) God mocks his enemies attempts from above.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 5:21-23. Ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον] about the dawn of day. On ὄρθρος, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. 275 f.; and on ὑπό, used of nearness in time, see Bernhardy, p. 267. Often so in Thuc.; see Krüger on i. 100. 3. Comp. 3Ma 5:2; Tob 7:11. The ἀκούσαντες is simply a continuation of the narrative: after they heard that, etc., as in Acts 2:37, Acts 11:18, and frequently.

παραγενόμενος] namely, into the chamber where the Sanhedrim sat, as is evident from what follows. They resorted thither, unacquainted with the liberation of the apostles which had occurred in the past night, and caused the Sanhedrim and the whole eldership to be convoked, in order to try the prisoners.

καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γερουσίαν] The importance which they assigned to the matter (comp. on Acts 4:6) induced them to summon not only those elders of the people who were likewise members of the Sanhedrim, but the whole body of elders generally, the whole council of representatives of the people. The well-known term γερουσία is fittingly[170] transferred from the college of the Greek gerontes (Dem. 489. 19; Polyb. xxxviii. 5. 1; Herm. Staatsalterth. § 24. 186) to that of the Jewish presbyters. Heinrichs (following Vitringa, Archisynag. p. 356) considers πᾶσ. τ. γερουσ. as equivalent to ΤῸ ΣΥΝΈΔΡΙΟΝ, to which it is added as honorificentissima compellatio. Warranted by usage (1Ma 12:6; 2Ma 1:10; 2Ma 4:44; Jdt 4:8; Jdt 11:14; Jdt 15:8; Loesner, p. 178); but after the quite definite and well-known τὸ συνέδριον, the addition would have no force.

Acts 5:23 contains quite the artless expression of the official report.

[170] Although nowhere else in the N. T.; hence here, perhaps, to be derived from the source used by Luke.

Acts 5:21. ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον, “about day-break,” R.V., i.e., without delay they obeyed the angel’s command (Weiss). The words may also indicate the customary usage of Palestine where the heat was great in the daytime. The people rose early and came to our Lord to hear Him, Luke 21:38 (John 8:2). ὑπὸ = sub, circa (of time), so in classical Greek, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 132. The first sacrifice took place in the Temple very early, Edersheim, Temple and its Services, p. 132, and it may be that the Apostles went to catch the people at the hour of their early devotions (Plumptre).—ὑπό is used nowhere else in the N.T. with an accusative in this sense, cf. Tob 7:11, , al; ὑπὸ τὴν νύκτα, 3Ma 5:2—παραγενόμενος: having come, i.e., to the place where the Sadducees met, not merely pleonastic; the verb may fairly be regarded as characteristic of St. Luke in both his writings—it occurs eight times in his Gospel and thirty in the Acts, and frequently absolutely as here—elsewhere in N.T. only eight or nine times, frequent in LXX.—τὸ συνέδριον καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γερουσίαν: does γερουσία represent an assembly or body in addition to the συνέδριον, or do the two words represent the same Court? The word γερ. appears nowhere else in the N.T., but in the LXX it is used in several places of the Jewish Sanhedrim, 1Ma 12:6, 2Ma 1:10; 2Ma 4:44; 2Ma 11:27, Jdg 4:8; Jdg 14:4; Jdg 15:8. In the N.T. the Sanhedrim is also called πρεσβυτέριον, Luke 22:66, Acts 22:5. If the two words denote the same body καὶ must be regarded as merely explicative (so Wendt as against Meyer) to emphasise the solemn importance and representative nature of the assembly (so Grimm-Thayer to signify the full Sanhedrim sub v. γερ. and so apparently Blass). If we adopt Rendall’s view καί may still be explicative, but in another way, specifying the comprehensive character of this meeting as compared with the hasty and informal gathering in Acts 4:5-6 (cf. Kuinoel’s view, in loco). The difficulty has caused others to suggest that γερ. refers to men of age and experience who were asked to join the Council as assessors, or to some other assembly larger than the Sanhedrim and only summoned on special occasions. For the former view, Lumby and Plumptre (see also Page’s note) refer to Mishna, Joma, i., 1, where mention is made of “the chamber of the assessors,” parhedrin = πάρεδροι. Further we may note, Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 172, E.T., in a note on this passage points out that as there can be no doubt as to the identity of the two conceptions συνέδριον and γερουσία (so too Zöckler and Weiss, in loco), καί must be taken as explanatory, or St. Luke makes a mistake in assuming that the συνέδριον was of a less comprehensive character than the γερουσία, “the Sanhedrin and all the elders of the people together”. Schürer prefers the latter alternative, but the former may reasonably be maintained not only from the Greek text but also because St. Luke’s information admittedly derived from a Jewish-Christian source is not likely to have been inaccurate. Hilgenfeld agrees with Weiss that in the source the O.T. expression γερουσία, Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29; Exodus 12:21, stood alone, but that the reviser prefixed the usual expression συνέδριον which in Acts 5:27; Acts 5:34 is found without any addition. On “Synhedrion,” see Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 8, 1149, and “Aelteste,” i., 1, pp. 59, 60, and O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, pp. 175, 176 (1895).—δεσμωτήριον, Acts 16:26; Thuc. vi. 60 and LXX, Genesis 39:20-23; Genesis 40:3-5. On the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim and its right to order arrests by its own officers, and to dispose of cases not involving capital punishment, Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., 187, 188, E.T., O. Holtzmann, u. s., p. 173.

21. early in the morning] The words indicate a time as soon as possible after day dawn. They lost no time in obeying the command. How early it was possible for them to come to the Temple we find from the directions in the Talmud concerning the morning sacrifice. It is said (Mishna Joma iii. 1), “The Memunneh (see note on Acts 4:1) said to them: Go ye out (on to the Temple wall or roof) and see whether the time for killing the sacrifice has arrived. If it had arrived, the out-looker said, ‘It has flashed forth’ (i.e. day has dawned). Matthia ben Shemuel said [that the form of question was] ‘Has the whole face of the east become lit up as far as to Hebron? And the man answered, Yes.’ So that the first sacrifice took place at the very peep of day.” A like explanation is found Mishna Tamid iii. 2.

But the high priest came] i.e. into the council chamber, to consult on what should be done with the prisoners, of whose release they had as yet heard nothing.

called the council together] This was evidently deemed a case of the utmost consequence, and all pains are bestowed to gather to the hearing the combined wisdom of the whole authorities, for now, as is seen from Gamaliel’s presence, not Sadducees alone were called. The word here rendered council means probably the smaller Sanhedrin.

and all the senate of the children of Israel] Senate is here used in its original sense = the older men, and is a literal rendering of the Greek gerousia, meaning the great Sanhedrin of 71 elders. The name indicates that these were assessors added to the council by reason of their age and weight of character. We find from the Jewish literature that such assessors were often appointed. In the extract Mishna Joma i. 1, quoted on Acts 4:6, the word for “assessors” is parhedrin, i.e. the Greek πάρεδροι, and the adoption of such a word into the Jewish vocabulary shews that the office was not Jewish in origin but had become so firmly grafted among them as to justify the adoption of a foreign expression to describe it.

Acts 5:21. Γερουσίαν) A word of the Septuagint.

Verse 21. - This for that, A.V.; about day. break for early in the morning, A.V.; prison-house for prison, A.V. About daybreak. In the hot climate of Jerusalem people are about very early in the meriting (comp. Matthew 26:57, 75). But the high priest, etc. The narrative would run more clearly if the passage were translated more literally, Now when the high priest and they that were with him were come (to the council-chamber the next day) they called together, etc. The narrative is taken up from vers. 17, 18. Having (ver. 18) put the apostles in prison, they met the next morning to decide how to punish them. The council (τὸ συνέδριον); i.e. in the Hebraeo-Greek, the Sanhedrim, the great council of the nation, consisting of seventy-two members, usually presided over by the high priest. It is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55, etc.; and Acts 22:30; Acts 23:1, etc.; above Acts 4:15). On the present occasion, besides the members of the Sanhedrim, there were gathered together all the senate (γερουσία) of the children of Israel, an expression which occurs only here, but which seems to comprise all the elders of the Jews, even though they were not members of the Sanhedrim. But some (Schleusner, Heinrich, etc.) understand it as merely another phrase for the Sanhedrim, added for explanation and amplification. The council, of course, were ignorant of the escape of the prisoners. The prison-house (δεσμωτήριον); "prison" (A.V.) represents φυλακή in the next verse. Acts 5:21Early in the morning (ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον)

Ὑπό, beneath, is often used in the sense of just about, or near. Ὄρθρον, is from ὄρνυμι, to cause to arise: the dawn. See on Luke 24:1. Render as Rev., about daybreak.

Taught (ἐδίδασκον)

Imperfect: began teaching.

The council (συνέδριον)

The Sanhedrim.

The senate (γερουσίαν)

From γέρων, an old man, like the Latin senatus, from senex, old. Taking on very early an official sense, the notion of age being merged in that of dignity. Thus in Homer γέροντες are the chiefs who form the king's council. Compare the Latin patres, fathers, the title used in addressing the Roman senate. The word in this passage is the name of the Spartan assembly, Gerousia, the assembly of elders, consisting of thirty members, with the two kings. "The well-known term," as Meyer remarks, "is fittingly transferred from the college of the Greek gerontes to that of the Jewish presbyters." They summoned, not only those elders of the people who were likewise members of the Sanhedrim, but the whole council (all the senate) of the representatives of the people.

Prison (δεσμωτήριον)

Still another word for prison. Compare Acts 5:18, Acts 5:19. Rev., prison-house. The different words emphasize different aspects of confinement. Τήρησις is keeping, as the result of guarding. See on Acts 5:18. Φυλακή emphasizes the being put under guard, and δεσμωτήριον the being put in bonds.

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